I can officially say that we have an annual tradition of highlighting my church’s push for better mental health awareness in the month of May as this is the fourth year running. (If you want to see some of the things we have done in the past, check out these previous articles here, here, and here) This year’s events are going to be a little more involved, here is what we have listed.
Our lead pastor is doing a series titled “The Battle Within” that looks at our reliance on God, the world, and the pain that comes from this broken world. It’s a six week series about the battle within that we have and need to look towards God to win. Our pastoral staff have been amazing at integrating mental health conversation from the pulpit, whether this very intentional sermon series, our worship leader encouraging others to sing praise even when depressed, or the pastoral care pastor leading prayer for those who have been traumatized or struggling with mental illness. (The church will be uploading the sermon soon and you can check back later here to watch them)
They also have a fun bumper to go with it.
Devotional Study Guide
The leadership also wanted to have a 6 week devotional with the series and features four different clinical counselors being given a week of devotionals to write. If you want to check it out, you can download it free here. Honestly, it’s worth it to read through it, even if you do not plan to follow the series.
We have video recorded people who have lived experience who were willing to do a series of questions for social media (filmed vertically) on their own lived experience. We asked a bunch of questions about their mental health journey that ran a spectrum of experiences and how their faith integrated into it as well as challenges they experienced as Christians. The interviews were honest and we are excited to see how they will be used. The hope is these messages bring greater awareness and break down the stigma of mental health for Christians.
We have always had a resource table for those who want to know more about mental health and recovery. So we will have our usual resources from our local NAMI chapter, our local recovery board, and a one-sheet page that lists contacts and information on in-county counseling agencies. But this year we had counselors write a one-page sheet specifically for our congregation on topics about marriage, grief, general mental health awareness, and anxiety for them to read about. The hope is a personal touch may be even more impactful. We are also going to try a different approach by leaving it unmanned this year to see if people may be less shy about accessing the resources.
There is still more we are doing for the church community to come that is being planned.
- Our church has a podcast series called Deeper and we plan to do a one off where I sit down with the pastor and just have an honest conversation between pastor and counselor about faith and mental health.
- I will be doing a clinical Continuing Educational Units for counselors who are required to do ongoing educational on the topic of Faith and Mental Health, discussing with professionals the ethics to be aware of and then specifically Christian integration and resources out there.
- I am planning to be part of our church’s retreat where the pastors take a few days for themselves to reconnect, refuel, and simply be. My time there will be for a couple of hours in front of everyone to talk about mental health, specifically for their needs as pastors and church leadership.
- We’ve done a women’s conference last year called Soul Scan that is going to be even bigger this year and significantly incorporates women’s mental health.
Like I said, this year is a bit more and it’s required more planning, but I am excited to see the fruit of this work. I would love to hear in the comments what your church is doing for May’s mental health awareness month.